Guest Post from Karen Harper, author of Mistress Shakespeare

One of my favorite HF authors, Karen Harper, has graciously written a guest post for my lovely readers in honor of her novel, Mistress Shakespeare's, paperback release (January 5, 2010). 

Thank you Karen and the floor is yours....

For some reason I have not yet fully figured out, I am a Tudor maniac. This is a strange frame of mine that is more than just plain Anglophilia—love of all things English—although I must admit there is nothing I like more than visiting any historical site in ‘Merrie Olde England.’ My particular form of dementia comes out in researching and writing historical novels set in Tudor times, stories which—I hope—take the reader back into those past times with truth and excitement.

Twenty years before Philippa Gregory wrote THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL, I wrote THE LAST BOLEYN, about the same main character, Mary Boleyn, Anne’s sister. (We see the same characters in quite different ways.) I also wrote a nine-book historical mystery series with the young Queen Elizabeth I as the amateur sleuth. Now I’m very excited to see MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE on bookstore shelves, for this is a novel I’ve been researching for years.

I did my Masters Degree thesis on a Shakespeare play and taught the bard’s plays for years, catching glimpses of the man behind the genius. I became convinced he had a special woman in his life who appeared again and again in his plays—a feisty, strong, clever wench. I noted how some of his characters railed against arranged marriages, (which his marriage to Anne Hathaway, his well-known wife, was.) Why did he live away from his wife all those years, and who was the so-called “dark lady” of his passionate sonnets?

And so, I found Anne Whateley, the woman behind the man, the woman recorded as making a marriage bond with Shakespeare just before his public shotgun wedding to Anne Hathaway. In Anne Whateley, I found the perfect passage to the past for this book, my doorway into the good and the bad of teeming Tudor England. So I wrote the novel in first person and sometimes watched in awe as Anne Whateley told her own story of the life of Will Shakespeare—the true story of Shakespeare in love. Yet despite the fact the novel is firmly planted in Tudor times, the trials and triumphs of their lives are so very modern.

I’m a member of the Historical Novel Society, an organization with the motto, (a quote by William Faulkner) “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Exactly. Will Shakespeare should have said that and, come to think of it, I could have too.


Karen Harper is a New York Times extended list and USA Todaybestselling author whose novels, both historical and contemporary, have been published around the world. A former college and high school English instructor who lives in Columbus, Ohio and Naples, Florida, Harper frequently travels around the country to promote her books and speak about writing.

OTHER HISTORICAL BOOKS BY KAREN HARPER:  The Last Boleyn | Mistress Shakespeare | The Queen's Governess | The First Princess of Wales



  1. Everyone does love Tudor England, don't they? I guess it's the time when England really distinguished itself as a place of royal intrigue!

  2. Fantastic guest post, Karen. I always find it interesting to hear how authors came up with their stories and ideas.

    I am most definitely adding this book to my TBR list - - it sounds like a great read. Wished I had caught the giveaway!

    Thanks again.

  3. I just finished reading The Last Boleyn, and loved it. Nice to hear from you.

  4. I've recently become Tudor obsessed. This book is on my list right now!

  5. This sounds like such an interesting book - and I have been wanting the Last Boleyn for awhile.

  6. Great post! I will definitely be checking my library for Ms. Harper's books!

  7. Great guest post Lucy...I so appreciate Karen Harper's self proclaimed "Tudor maniac" title because I feel at times I am one as well...although not nearly as educated as Karen...I'm more of a "romantice tudor hobbyist"

  8. Karen,
    I have read and enjoyed your contemporary books for years. I had no idea you also wrote historical novels.
    I will be looking into theses, now that I know.
    Thanks for an interesting post.

  9. Karen, I'm sure you don't remember, but I met you very briefly at HNS in Chicago (you signed THE FIRST PRINCESS OF WALES for me). I had no idea that you'd done a mystery series featuring Elizabeth I!! I must go out and search for it right away.

    Congrats on your new release. You've got a gorgeous cover.


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